In 2009, I responded to a job advertisement from Tufts University. The Classics department sought a junior or senior colleague with a strong record of teaching and research to teach Latin and Greek at all levels. The ad specified that the candidate should advance the study of Greek and Latin in an interdisciplinary context. Candidates who could support contributions to original research by undergraduate and graduate students were especially welcome.
This ad, while it was standard for our field in most respects, stood out by the suggestion that the department valued original student research. The ad did not mention the means by which this research should be accomplished. Yet, one of the most important benefits of digital methods for the discipline of Classics is that they help broaden participation in research activities. Everyone, from undergraduate student to senior professor, can offer valuable and valid contributions. The main enabling factor is the digital micro-publication, which allows researchers at all levels to produce a range of assertions such as place and time annotations, diplomatic transcriptions, editions, and translations which can be aggregated into large research products. Validation processes can easily be put in place through the digital medium within or outside the original research community. Such research groups not only offer a breath of fresh air in our discipline, they have become crucial in order to keep up with current knowledge in our field. Indeed, with the growing availability of primary source material under open licenses such as manuscripts and inscriptions, there is a real need to create inclusive research communities so as to even begin to tackle the immense task of processing all this largely untouched information.
When the Tufts University ad came out, I was (unsuccessfully) seeking funding for a digital epigraphy project which entailed the contribution of students, so I applied and was offered the position. However, such pursuits are non-traditional in our field and require intense involvement on the part of the faculty members who undertake them. This effort is also difficult to quantify with the traditional evaluation criteria associated with tenure requirements. It can therefore be quite challenging for junior faculty to lead such research projects. Yet, as I have experienced in the past six years, it can also be rewarding and help to reconcile the various demands on junior faculty in the areas of teaching, research, and service. In this paper, I will share my observations and lessons learned from my time on the tenure track.
Digital Classics and the Changing Profession